In this special EMERGENCY edition of DOPE Digest, the team weighs in on a particularly urgent cultural development…
Taylor Swift – “Shake it Off” Video
syvo: The only thing truly interesting about this week’s new Taylor Swift song/video is how completely mundane it is. The song is OK, but not what I look for in a Taylor Swift jam. One might expect a country music non-fan like me to be excited about her ongoing de-countryfication; but it’s just the opposite. Her quaint, naïve Southern sensibilities and unusual ability to fuse country with modern teen-pop are precisely what made Taylor Taylor. Instead, we have a painfully catchy jingle that lacks the creativity or uniqueness of a Katy Perry B-side.
Meanwhile, anyone feigning offense to video’s brief use of urban imagery (OFWGKA’s Earl Sweatshirt, for example) is really knocking on the open door at this point. Taking the same “cultural appropriation” angle leveled against a veritable who’s-who of pop stars in the last year (including Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Sky Ferriera, and Avril Lavigne) is mistaken in this instance, mostly because of the obviously (and boringly) parodic tone of the video. Tay’s whiteness is on display here as a clear comment on the absurd post-Miley pop world, and more specifically interrogates the curious ascendence of Iggy Azalea to the status of “legitimate mainstream rap artist.”
All that said, I’m mostly amused by the ballerinas, silly ribbon dancing, and cheerleaders; but even then only half-heartedly.
caroline: I could not possibly agree with you more, syvo. I’ve always liked Taylor Swift and welcomed her departure away from country, but “Shake it Off” isn’t very interesting even by pop music standards. Sure, it’s catchy and people generally love the “fuck the haters” attitude, but other than that this song doesn’t have very much going for it. Tay Tay says this new album is greatly influenced by the sounds of late 80’s pop music (a genre I happen to love), but “Shake it Off” sounds less Depeche Mode and a bit more Hilary Duff circa 2014…with a little Vanilla Ice mixed in? I’m sorry you guys, but baby girl is never going to be a rapper. I repeat, never going to be a rapper. Not. Happening.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve seen better music videos in my day. I’m sure Swifty had a lot of fun making it, but not even the killer costume budget can save this video from being nothing more than adorably bland. I do admire that, unlike many of her contemporaries, Tay isn’t ashamed to make a boring video that is neither particularly artful or remotely edgy. Even when she hasn’t produced any new music or videos in over a year, she’s totally fine just bouncing around, playing dress up, looking hot. No shame in the game, Tay Tay.
True to Swifty form, the best part is that somewhere out there is a guy who upon hearing this song thought to himself, “oh my god. THIS SONG IS ABOUT ME”.
BK: YOU GUYS. This song is totally dope and you should buy into it now before it’s too late.
Taylor Swift is a force of nature. She’s a hurricane and a Sharknado and a 22 year-old rolled into one. She loves and hates and cheerleads harder than most of us can even imagine. She wears her emotions on her sleeves and yet remains exquisitely vague about the specifics of the men she dates. She dances at award shows. She don’t care.
She hangs out with Selena Gomez and stops hanging out with Selena Gomez and suddenly nominates her for ice bucket challenges. She transcends pop music the same way Beyonce does, and she will make you love ‘Shake it off’ the same way she makes you love everything else about her; because she’s young and charming and likable.
The video is not particularly innovative and neither is the song, but that is not what T-Swift is about. She’s about making what’s popular more popular and making what’s good even better. This is the perfect lead single for Swifty-2014 and I can’t wait for the towering follow-up.
I’ll see you guys on the dance floor whenever you’re ready.
Julia: With some effort, I have become a Taylor Swift fan. I like the pastel retro outfits she’s been parading around in this year. I like the needlepoint of Drake lyrics she made for Ed Shereen. I really liked Red. I will involuntarily shout-sing to “Love Story” every time I hear it until I die. Thus, I am approaching the new album with enthusiasm.
The trouble (trouble.. trouble.. trouble..) I have with “Shake It Off” basically fits into my general reservation about Madame Swift: she’s too heavy-handed with her lovably adorkable image, and this causes me to enjoy her very good pop songs less.
The German word “Fremdschaemen” describes feeling embarrassed for another person, and this is what I felt watching the whole gold tracksuit/breakdancing situation in the “Shake It Off’ video. Same thing happened with the video for “We Are Never Getting Back Together”: old Taylor nearly ruined what is still her best song with a stuffed animal backup band and over-the-top mugging at the camera in pajamas! Why must she ham it up so much all the time?! (Might I use the term Taylor Ham here, syvo?)
But like she says, haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. The song I think is alright – it’s not up to par with the best T Swift hits, but it’s catchy and I’m not going to NOT sing along when I hear it in every grocery store for the next 6-9 months. Three stars!